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There’s no getting out of it: This is a column discussing a syndrome in which lawyers (I suspect mostly women lawyers) sometimes cry on the job in what are arguably inappropriate situations, and the often negative (and avoidable) fallout that results. 

Maybe I shouldn’t post this one. It’ll only get me into trouble. But what the heck – I’m here to talk about what I see and hear happening in the world of law, and darn it, this falls under that heading.

So here goes nothing:

My client had done what a lot of lawyers wind up doing at some point in their careers – tried to get herself fired.

That’s a phenomenon I see all the time in biglaw – the unconscious attempt to get yourself fired thing. You can’t rationally convince yourself to quit, but the irrational part of you knows it isn’t about to let you stay, either. So, in therapist speak, you “act out on unexamined feelings.” That manifests itself in stuff like complaining about your job a bit too loudly in places that are a bit too public. Or coming in late. Or not coming in. Or just acting weird at the office without owning the fact that people are going to notice and some of them aren’t going to like it.

I urge lawyers, if they have reached that point of no return (the place where you really cannot come back and work at your firm for one more day without losing your shit) then please, go ahead and own it, and make the decision to leave in a conscious way. It’s best to reframe all aspects of your life as conscious choices, including your career, and put your decision process into words someplace safe (like a psychotherapist’s office) so you can take back your autonomy and be the actor in your own life, instead of acting out on unconscious, unexplored emotions.

You’re allowed to quit. There will be consequences, especially if you don’t have another job lined up, or are saddled with a heap of school debt. But everything in life involves a cost/benefit calculus; this is just another one of those things.

The person who most needs to know what’s going on with you, so she can deal with it, is your boss. That way, instead of wondering what the heck is going on with that associate acting like a lunatic, she can process the news that you want out and, maybe even work together with you to find a solution.

My client freely admitted she’d been broadcasting her discontent to a lot of people – other associates, secretaries, paralegals, word processors, librarians, doc reviewers, you name it. In fact, if you were with her for more than a few moments, you probably heard how miserable she was, along with a stream of complaints and criticism about her firm.

Sure enough, a partner she worked with eventually took her aside and said, “I’ve been hearing you’re unhappy. Why don’t we set up a time to talk?” They agreed my client would come by her office the next morning.

And that’s when my client called me. 

Continue Reading »

TED time

Hi!

I’ve always sort of wanted to do a TED talk. But I’ve also always thought it would be really hard to do a TED talk.

Luckily, I found the perfect compromise: Have someone else do a TED talk about me.

Liz Brown wrote a book in 2013 called “Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have.” It’s a good book, and one of the really great things about it is that I’m in it, as a case study of one of the lawyers (me!) who left law and went on to find another career.

In 2015, Liz did a TEDx talk about her book – and mentioned me! And I just realized it (sorry, got to keep better track of this stuff.) Here’s the talk, and here’s the bit about me.

Here’s some info about Liz. She’s an interesting lady, and well worth giving a listen (and a read.)

There are a couple teensy errors in her talk. I did Mergers & Acquisitions, not Mergers & Exchange, at S&C. At Barnes & Noble.com I did Marketing and Bus Dev, not sales. And my psychotherapy practice is located in lower Manhattan, not Brooklyn. But hey…she got a whole lot about me right (as in everything else including how much I love the work I do right now. )

So now I can (sort of ) say I did a TED talk (in a manner of speaking) without having to actually, you know, talk at TED. Yay!


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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

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And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

poor dears

Ah, lawyer misery. It is a force of nature. It drives the tides, powers the sun, causes the wind to blow and the trees to grow and the seasons to change. What would we do without miserable lawyers?

Actually, it might be nice. And I suspect the planet could handle happier lawyers, all things equal.

A week or two ago I chatted with the utterly delightful and refreshingly forthright Anjali Patel on her podcast for Sweatours, which she founded, and which is super worth checking out because it’s all about making law students and lawyers generally happier and, well, well-er.

the lovely Anjali Patel

Anjali assigned our podcast episode the adorable title: “Why Some of Us are Miserable.” Who can resist a Victor Hugo tie-in?!

You can listen to the podcast here. I can’t recommend it enough. Anjali is something special – totally committed to telling the truth about lawyers’ lives, which is refreshing, and she’s smart, too, and knows what she’s talking about from experience. And (I love this part) she’s actually read my books, so we could get into the nitty-gritty.

Sweatours

This was a lot of fun, and I hope Anjali will have me back, cause trust me we could keep on going. Thanks to everyone at Sweatours – together, maybe we can turn the tide a bit, and spark a little lawyer joy.


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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

This image has an empty alt attribute

And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

batman-joker-interrogation-dark-knightYou are really, really sick of law. In fact, you want out. At a minimum, you need to get out of your current job, or you might die. That much is not in dispute. 

But you still have the loans. Therefore common sense says you should “give law one more try.”

As H. L. Mencken once observed:“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

You sense this quotation might apply to your current situation, because it seems clear and simple you should go find another job in biglaw, at least for a year. Here are some screamingly clear and simple reasons why:

  • You need money to pay off loans – one more shot at biglaw money.
  • It’s not life or death – you can always quit the new job if it doesn’t work out. 
  • According to the headhunters who call you twice a day, there are loads of “lifestyle” shops that would love to snap you up from your hotshot firm, despite the fact that you loath that place with every cell in your body. 

The list of “cons” includes:

  • imagining starting a law job at another firm makes you physically ill;
  • the thought of interviewing at a law firm makes you physically ill; and
  • the thought of walking into another law firm makes you physically ill. 

A lot of lawyers find themselves in this situation, stuck (in the metaphorical sense) between a rock (school loans) and a hard place (the thought of continuing to practice law.) 

However, the final decision tends to be along the lines of – well, no harm in going for an interview. Which is why you’ll probably wind up going in for that interview. 

“So, should I go on this interview?” One client asked me recently. I knew he was talking about that interview. 

Continue Reading »

con salsa

(it’s a secret)

I had a ball a few weeks ago recording a podcast with the delightful Kimberly Rice, of KLA Marketing. You can hear the results here.

We talked about my background, including my strange journey from biglaw to psychotherapy, then mulled over the experiences of lawyers nowadays in a variety of settings and pondered the future of the profession.

It’s a far-ranging conversation, and a lively and fun one. Thanks, Kimberly!

Kimberly Rice

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51awxyv-23l._sl110_.jpg

Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

This image has an empty alt attribute

And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is q

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

tba11_taylormac_960

My client said her firm had, more or less, a checklist of what they wanted in a lawyer they made partner. And she had knocked herself out checking off every last damn item.

  • Helped with firm marketing efforts (including hundreds of non-billable hours)? Check.
  • Worked with a variety of partners in various areas, including powerful group leaders and major rainmakers? Check.
  • Logged long hours – and billed those hours – including nights and weekends, producing top-quality written work that was universally praised? Check.
  • Cultivated positive relationships with existing clients, who produced enthusiastic feedback about her work? Check.
  • Worked on important matters in a variety of roles, including stuff like taking part in trials and depositions and handling matters relating to complicated, highly regulated industries? Check.
  • Brought in her own clients and began developing a meaningful book of business? Check.
  • Tackled meaningful pro bono work? Check.
  • Participated in events with summer associates and recruitment efforts? Check.
  • Supervised and mentored juniors and ran large teams on big cases? Check.
  • Anything else you can think of? Check.

Other folks in her class, even junior partners at her firm, considered her promotion, at least to of counsel, to be a given. As one put it, “if not you, then who? You’re the dream associate, a superstar.”

The logic was simple: They have to promote someone, and if it’s anything even vaguely resembling the meritocracy they claim it is, she had to be that someone.

But no, as you might be guessing, that’s not how things worked out. They promoted no one.
After a year, or two or (really) many years of “making the partnership sprint,” the firm told her she wasn’t up for anything – not partner, not of counsel, not senior attorney, nothing. At her review, she was informed she could remain at the firm, as an associate, for as long as she wanted. That’s what they were offering, in gratitude for years of devoted labor – more of the same.

Oh, and there was one more thing: They needed her to work late that night on an important, complicated filing due the next morning. (No, I’m not making that up.)

Continue Reading »

Inhumane

Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 11.42.35 AM

I rode the subway up to midtown Manhattan last week, to the sound studio at ALM Media, to record a podcast with the brilliant and wonderful Leigh Jones.Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 11.43.37 AM

We talked about lawyer suicide, in response to several recent suicides by BigLaw partners.  It was a serious conversation about a very serious topic, and you can listen to it here.

Inevitably, we expanded the discussion to cover the broader issue of lawyer mental health and lawyer unhappiness.

My thanks to Law.com and Leigh and Vanessa Blum, and their colleagues.

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Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls

in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance